Doctor Eleanor Stalenberg

Dr Eleanor Stalenberg joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (HIE) in November 2020 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Plants, Animals and Interactions theme. Her research draws together three fields of research: nutrition, physiology and spatial ecology, in order to answer the question: how does environmental change impact on mammalian folivores?

Her current work examines the influence of climate and weather on the feeding, behaviour and survival of wild koalas in the Campbelltown LGA, south of Sydney. The project aims to use the discoveries at Campbelltown to build an improved bioenegetic model of the koala – a sort of “virtual koala” to predict future koala habitat and the fate of koalas throughout Australia under a great variety of conditions and scenarios.

The project will help us answer questions like: Should we provide supplementary water to koalas during hot days, and if so, where? Will current areas of occupancy be suitable for koalas in the future or will the habitat change too much? Should we help koalas move to different areas, and if so, where will be suitable in the future?

Eleanor received her PhD from the Australian National University in 2019, under the supervision of Prof William Foley (ANU), Prof Michael Hutchinson (ANU), Prof Joerg Ganzhorn (Hamburg University) and Prof Andrew Krockenberger (JCU). Her project examined the nutritional and biophysical ecology of a folivorous lemur, the white-footed sportive lemur (Lepilemur leucopus) of the spiny forest in southern Madagascar. During her PhD she developed an interactive mechanistic model to simulate the impacts of climate extremes and long-term climatic change on the health and survival of her study species.

Before her PhD, and also after submitting her thesis, Eleanor worked in the Science Division at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage working on multiple research projects on the ecology, distribution and health of koalas in NSW and was also involved in multiple citizen science projects.

Areas of Research

mammalian folivore nutrition, plant-animal interactions, mammalian physiology, biophysical ecology, mechanistic modelling, threatened species, conservation ecology


Windley HR, Starrs D, Stalenberg E, Rothman JM, Ganzhorn JU, Foley WJ, (2022) 'Plant secondary metabolites and primate food choices: A meta-analysis and future directions', American Journal of Primatology, vol.84, no.8, e23397

Stalenberg E, Hutchinson MF, Foley WJ, (2018) 'Using historical normals to improve modern monthly climate normal surfaces for Madagascar', International Journal of Climatology, vol.38, pp 5746–5765

Bethge J, Wist B, Stalenberg E, Dausmann K, (2017) 'Seasonal adaptations in energy budgeting in the primate Lepilemur leucopus', Journal of Comparative Physiology. B, Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology, vol.187, pp 827–834

Ganzhorn JU, Arrigo-Nelson SJ, Carrai V, Chalise MK, Donati G, Droescher I, Eppley TM, Irwin MT, Koch F, Koenig A, Kowalewski MM, Mowry CB, Patel ER, Pichon C, Ralison J, Reisdorff C, Simmen B, Stalenberg E, Starrs D, Terboven J, Wright PC, Foley WJ, (2017) 'The importance of protein in leaf selection of folivorous primates', American journal of primatology, vol.79, pp 1–13

Lunney D, Stalenberg E, Santika T, Rhodes JR, (2017) 'A rebuttal to ‘Mooted extinction of koalas at Eden: improving the information base', Wildlife Research, vol.44, p453.

Predavec M, Lunney D, Hope B, Stalenberg E, Shannon I, Crowther MS, Miller I, (2016) 'The contribution of community wisdom to conservation ecology', Conservation Biology, vol.30, pp 496-505

Crowther MS, Lunney D, Lemon J, Stalenberg E, Wheeler R, Madani G, Ross K, Ellis M, (2014) 'Climate-mediated habitat selection in an arboreal folivore', Ecography, vol.37, pp 336–343

Lunney D, Stalenberg E, Santika T, Rhodes JR, (2014) 'Extinction in Eden: identifying the role of climate change in the decline of the koala in south-eastern NSW', Wildlife Research, vol.41, p22

Stalenberg E, Wallis IR, Cunningham RB, Allen C, Foley WJ, (2014) 'Nutritional correlates of koala persistence in a low-density population', PloS One. vol.9, no.12, e113930

Lunney D, Crowther MS, Wallis I, Foley WJ, Lemon J, Wheeler R, Madani G, Orscheg C, Griffith JE, Krockenberger M, Retamales M, Stalenberg E (2012) 'Koalas and climate change: a case study on the Liverpool Plains, north-west New South Wales'. In: Hutchings P, Lunney D (eds) Wildlife & climate change. Towards robust conservation strategies for Australian fauna. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, N.S.W., pp 150–168.